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South Korea Risks IUU Status In EU

South Korea could face IUU fishing status in the European Union after the European Commission has criticized the country for failing to cooperate with the EU in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Meantime, the ISSF has still made no decision on the future of Dongwon, Korea’s largest tuna company’s membership to the foundation, after allegations of IUU fishing in March this year.


While nations such as Belize, Cambodia and Guinea are facing pending sanctions which will prohibit the export of fish products to the EU, South Korea, along with Ghana and Curaçao, has been warned that this too could be a potential fate for its country. A formal warning yellow card has been given to Korea by the EU if it fails to keep up with international obligations to fight illegal fishing.
The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) lists Korean tuna company, Dongwon, as a member through its US tuna brand, StarKist. Despite Dongwon facing allegations of IUU tuna fishing operations and forging government documents, its membership with the sustainability foundation remains, and is since this summer pending a decision by the industry organizations’ compliance committee, which verdict is expected by end of this year.  The U.S. government has so far not taking any position on South Korea’s involvement with IUU fishing. Recently, the EU and USA agreed to start developing more joint policies in the battle against IUU.
South Korea is a major supplier of whole round skipjack to Thailand’s canned tuna processing industry. Thailand  exported over 5 million cartons (48x185g cans)  to Europe in 2012, partly produced from Korean caught skipjack.
Another South Korean tuna purse seiner operator, Silla Company Ltd., had also been brought in relation to IUU fishing in the Atlantic Ocean.
The Commission said that it has identified concrete failings, such as a lack of actions to address deficiencies in monitoring, controlling and surveillance of fisheries. Corrective actions have been suggested to South Korea to resolve its shortcomings. 
European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, said: “These decisions show our steadfast commitment to tackling illegal fishing. The EU market is negatively affected as are local and EU fishermen. We continue to put pressure on the countries which are fueling the supply chain of illegal fishing be it as a coastal state, flag state, or flag of convenience. West Africa was identified as a major source of illegal fishing and my intention is now take the same thorough approach in the Pacific.”
Jiehyun Park, Greenpeace East Asia Oceans Campaigner, commented on the matter, saying: “It comes as no surprise to Greenpeace that the European Union has given the yellow card to Korea given the number of cases of illegal fishing involving Korean vessels that we have documented in recent months. It confirms what we have said all along: the government is failing to exercise proper control of the Korean fishing fleet. The possibility of being blacklisted by the EU is not only embarrassing; it could have real economic impact, when the EU closes its markets to our seafood products.”